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Your job is so easy!

Web work seen as soft option?

     
4:07 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The other day a friend and I were discussing what I had done at work that day and she suddenly said, "I did a one day course on HTML the other day and produced my first website. God, web design is so easy isn't it?" It made me feel very silly as my day-to-day job involves alot more than HTML writing (PHP, MySQL, SQL, email strategies, DHTML etc). Why do so many people say this when you tell them what you do - most of the time I am too tired to say that web development is much more than HTML! I took a first aid course last year, but I never say "Wow, being a nurse is so easy!".

Is our industry still seen as a micky mouse one by most?

Maynard.

4:25 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Nice discussion here.

Yes, given how "easy" it is to produce a basic web page, even in the elementary schools, it certainly does appear to be Mickey Mouse as you put it.

When my father hangs a shingle as a "web site designer" because he can install a dropdown menu system, and people pay him to create sites, it certainly makes the rest of us look like Mickey Mouse developers.

I will state for the record that vanilla HTML IS very easy to learn. There really is very little to "mater" to create decent Static web pages.

However, most professional websites will go way beyond vanilla and when you start adding in database back ends, scripting, and a host of other technologies, suddenly we're professionals again.

I stress to people that I'm not a web site designer. I'm a programmer for web based applications.

5:32 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I don't think that it is considered micky mouse so much as just completely not understood. People think that you work some kind of magic when you make a webpage. That you have to be really, really smart to do this internet stuff.

So, when they get a little glimpse of how it really works and they see that it's not some form of magic and you don't have to be a genius to do it, they are surprised is all. "You mean it's that easy" doesn't really mean that they think your job is easy, it just means that it's not as complicated or mystical as they thought.

5:38 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I had a close friend tell me I was "selling myself short" wanting to go into web design / web programming. In her words: "Anyone can build a web page". It didn't take long for me to help her understand the fact that - yes, just about anyone can build a web page - but not just anyone can design a *good* (standards compliant, functional, useful...) web site. I was surprised at first at her reaction - she was the first person I'd run into with that perception, but since then it has come up time and time again.
5:44 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Once, I attended school and we learnt to add up and subtract. Isn't accounting so easy?
8:40 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It is like a guy who has learned how to boil water and make coffee for the first time exclaiming to his wife "boy! cooking is easy!".
9:47 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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i just had a project go sour because of this notion.

a client wanted me to redisign his web-site. the web site in question was designed by him in frontpage--splash page, dhtml dropdown menu with images as the buttons, very confusing info architecture.

he thinks that he is an expert because he can use frontpage and, if i want to be a professional, it would really be in my best interests to get use this software.

his code was 300+ lines and had as many errors when i ran it through a validator. my code had 40 lines plust extaernal style sheet, and everything validated--that is meaningless to him.

one week after agreeing on a quote for a minimalist approach, which he wanted, he decided that he wants all sorts of animation on each page. he was upset that a) i told him it would look stupid, b) i would have to charge him alot more.

"why cant you just drop it in where you want it?"
"you can do it in frontpage."
"thats the beauty of frontpage, you can put anything anywhere, people wouldn't need web designers if they all had frontpage."
"you should really think about getting frontpage so that you can play with the big boys."

i won't quote what i said to him.

many people think website design is like page layout--just put it where you want it. maybe they'll understand when there site ranks #37,648 on the search engine.

10:28 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think I spend most of my time making my websites like they are really simple.

You do a view source and there is just simple HTML plus an external stylesheet and possibly an external javascript file.

The items like:
1) intelligent cross-linking
2) consistant layout
3) lack of script and html errors
4) consistant breadcrums and other navigation
5) automatically updating prices from Amazon on items matched to page content
6) etc. etc. etc.

Might be easy to do on a single page but maintaining them on several 500 page sites is non-trivial.

10:57 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yes i agree with all you've said before...

is very frustrating eahc time some one tells you this kind of things...

In deed make a single page, traying to do with a good style, standard code and cross-browser things is very difficult, or at least is what every one thinks all this times you have a layout or a script problem...

Another thing about this thread is that, have you noticed that everybody is a web designer?

I mean, there is a lot of people who claim to be one, just because have FP in home and a personal web page.

well...

I have to let you for today, have to make another web simple and silly web page...

X-)))

Bye

10:58 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Pretty much anyone can make a webpage, just like anyone can try to create a corporate identity or an online marketing capaign. Likewise - I can take a stab (pun intended) at preforming open heart surgery.

It is just a matter of skill.

11:52 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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In any endeavor, those that are exceptionally gifted make it look really easy.

One only begins to appreciate the difficulty (and the dedication that led to its mastery) when they see a pro side by side with an amateur. Even then some are blind.

Such is life. Such is human nature.

Some jobs are better left to others. That 'Front Page' client sounds like one of them. How much better to work with someone that can appreciate the value of quality work.

WBF

11:57 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Just turn it around and say that if it's so easy and pays, what's there to prevent himself/herself from making "easy money". Kind of like "If you're so smart why aren't you rich".

If it a client a little education might be in order, but for casual smarties that'll do just fine I think :)

12:09 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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[devils advocate hat]

Nah - you are all wrong, web design IS easy.

Well, its the easiest job I've ever had, anyway.

[/devils advocate hat]

12:19 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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My father is very condescending on web site making.

One of his comments is everybody and his dog is a web designer?

ack bol*ox, i always argue with him, and tell him to find one of these supposed everybodies to challenge the SEO/SEM/PPC/HTML/CSS/HOSTING/JS/PHP/SQL/PERL & TOOL mindfields.

My retort is usually you find a webmaster any topic and we'll see how good they are!

Easy no. Good money yes- that usually makes most outsiders very complacent about the amount of learning, repeition and time that is spent breaking down barriers that do and don't exist in making a buck for a company that you represent or for yourselve.

one obscene word comes to what i think of that person when they make a statement like that - W^*(@r

12:25 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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a) Writing a page in HTML

b) Designing a page which simultaneously works in graphic design terms, in commercial terms, in usability terms and in accessibility terms

and

c) Designing a website full of such pages with an intuitive information architecture which is well optimised for search engines and sufficiently branded for offline recall

are all skills which differ in order of magnitude.

And all that doesn't even get on to javascript, php, MySQL, Java, SSI, Perl etc.

I had a friend who went on an 8 lesson web design course: by the end of it all she had learned was how to put together a web page. They never touched upon the fact that writing a web page and writing a website are not the same thing at all.

12:46 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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taking the cue from 4eyes...
[devils advocate hat]

NAH! you're all wrong..

nothing in life is easy, it may just (if you're lucky) be enjoyable for a while and you may feel like you know better than someone else for a while, but that just means they're off learning while you're gloating.. (or was that the other way around?)

Generally I agree with the this threads title... but there is a great saying that has never failed to prove itself otherwise to me..

What goes around, comes around

taking advantage while you can is one thing realising what you're doing is another.... hehe

[end devils advocate]

Suzy
<jeepers speeling is nae good, sorry>

[edited by: SuzyUK at 12:53 am (utc) on Mar. 19, 2004]

12:49 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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8-days? It took my friends who were in Infotech in highschool about 5 months to learn how to make their text: bold, italicize, change color, and how to make new paragraphs and line breaks.

My biggest problem with people is that they don't consider it to even BE a proffesion.

Well, I see the same idea repeated over and over again: it's easy to make a webPAGE, harder to make a webSITE with lots of content that's standard compliant and cross-browser, hardest to use PHP and Perland whatnot and have great navigation and information archictecture and good search engine rank and cross browser and standards compliant and everything else that you only see with all of that on a site in a blue moon.

12:49 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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devils advocate hat!

only you mate - ok - as life or jobs goes its easy going regarding manual labour or serious stress experienced at board level of a multinational, but the original point i think was can everybody do it. Nope

lotsa, lotsa - wannabee's

1:21 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>web design is so easy

Right, and thanks to frontpage, working a few hours a week should be enough to bring in the big money!

1:53 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Another "devil's advo" here, with another slant entirely....

There are at least two levels of "web dev" under discussion here, neither mutually exclusive in reality:

1: the professional. Heesh has spent time learning - and as a consequence, heesh can produce a site that accomplishes what its owner presumably visualized from the beginning: sales, information, accretion of accolades from the community - whatever that individual wanted to present/provide to the part of the world which sometimes utilizes the 'net as a resource. Not a bad thing, but not altogether a good thing either, since much of this developer's "market" is more concerned with the "spam" of advertising and the "sky-pie" of a mega-googrank than it is with a usable site - which attitude seriously handcuffs the professional and doesn't make the "shopper" all that happy either.

2: the non-professional. Heesh has spent time learning as well - but hisser frame of reference is totally different: heesh has in mind a few pages (a "site" if you will) of which hisser family/friends may be the only accessors - and upon which site they will find some information of value in their own referents. By accessing this individual's site, they may be seduced into the larger world of the info-net, to learn, to buy, to enjoy. Or not - that's it's beauty - an end in itself in a way, and "beauty IS in the eye of its beholder".

Neither sort of "web development" should be disparaged, since each provides a viable option in some "community". They are like pages of a book: they are not the same, but they share some "edges", some "surfaces" - and both have value, with no "equality of value" assumed, approved, or denied.

The web today approximates the world today: all people are equally of value, as long as one is willing to admit/allow that valuation; the two faces of web development are equally of value, as long as one is willing to admit/allow that valuation. [*sigh* This begs the question of the truly evil person - but perhaps there's a mirror in scumspam or some such?]

I have a long-standing bias against "elitism", beginning back in the days of some of the more egregious of the linux sites and their proponenets. I remember an article I read in maybe 1992 by one of the "big guns" from PC Mag in which he stated that the "bane of the internet" was the very fact that it was available to EVERYONE who wanted to upload a "vanity" site - and that hopefully that would soon become impossible so as to leave the 'net "unsullied" and open for "professionals" to get on with "business". I do not to this day believe that he was joking....

I guess what I'm saying bottom line is that the web and its professionals should be above that sort of arrant arrogance. If I'm misreading the "elitist" attitude in this thread, then I apologize - but that's how it seems to me at the moment.... I think the "internet" is a big enough place for everyone, and while I'm well aware that this site is pretty much dedicated to business and stuff like a site's rank in search engines, there IS a whole world out there which doesn't give a rat's a*s about same - and they're as right in their own inimitable fashion as is the other side.

And on another tack completely, I do QUITE empathize with those of you who are trying to make a living in this business and who have to deal with the "oh it's so EASY" attitude. That's a whole other can of worms though.... you actually get that in almost any field of work these days - mostly from people who DON'T work.

[Silvermoon's standard disclaimer: This is a personal opinion only (not that anyone should care WHAT my opinion is or is not!); others' opinions may and quite probably will vary. Others are certainly entitled to their own opinions and may express them fully with my blessing - and while I will be interested in those opinions, I reserve the right to fail to change my own just because others think I should. *sigh*]

2:24 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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vkaryl-

i don't think anyone here is opposed to vanity sites or other non-professional entities on the web.

my concern is when a client expects me to make what, in hisser eyes, is a quick change--like all of a sudden making rollover image-swapping features on every page because heesh has seen it done in frontpage. the fact that heesh has seen it done in a drag and drop fashion makes hirm feel that a rate increase is not justified.

the same client i ranted about earlier in this thread wanted me to post a six page site to his server for $25. heesh figured that because heesh layed it out in powerpoint and saved it as an HTML file that i could just zap it up. no thought whatsoever to the horrendous code behind the scenes--when i couldn't get it to render heesh accused me of not knowing what i was doing--he then got an earful.

my point is, i can do it well and you need it done, that requires compensation on your part. the more complex, the higher the price. just because it can be done easily in frontpage doesn't mean it is quality work. if my client pays me to use outdated techniques, and to ignore such things as SEO, browser optimization, and screen resolution, i will do it but my concerns will be voiced in the contract.

you can go to your mechanic and ask for square wheels, don't be surprised when the car doesn't work, and don't hold the mechanic responsible if he tells you so before hand.

(not a flame)

2:57 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Great thread! Thanks to everyone contributing. A friend of mine offered his own comments (which I know to be true):

----------------------
I have personally done heart surgery (really - not kidding). Good website design is harder.

I have personally done rocket science (really -- H-infinity control systems design and optimization -- no kidding!) Good website design is harder.

I have personally been an executive of a successful corporation, a manager of over 500 shift workers in a single room, married (twice), a father of 4 children (by two women), a brother to 5 siblings, a college professor -- you guessed it -- good website design is harder.

------------------------

Hahahahaha. Now poor website design, now that seems to be way easy!

3:01 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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[deleted dup that mysteriously appeared]
9:37 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I really like Llama's comment: "It's easy to make a webPAGE, harder to make a webSITE." I think I will use that line to sceptics! I know web salaries have come down in recent years, but I still get paid more than friends on a similar experience level to me. I guess that reflects the level of expertise we have beyond bedroom web building - that is, employers (generally) know our worth.

The trouble is, when I start going on to explaining all the different languages we write and applications we use the "web design is easy" brigade's eyes glaze over - it's gobbledy goop to them. PHP? SOAP? XML? WAH?

It does help that I am a woman (despite my moniker here) - that seems to win some amount of surprise and even respect among some of the "web design is easy" idiots (but I wonder if some of them are thinking, "Well if a woman can do it, then it can't be that hard!"!).

Maynard.

3:00 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Everyone's job can be described as easy: A policeman drives around in a car all day. A postman just puts letters in the door. An accountant adds and subtracts. An IceHockey player hits a puck around.

And anyone can do the above. But not everyone can do the above with the skill to actually get paid for doing what they do.

I would like to see some of the people having a go at webmasters explain how google indexes sites, for example. Or why frames are difficult on a website. Or how to implement a session cookie or explain what one is for. And that is just the basics...

7:31 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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that sounds like my interviewing script!

My current favorite question is this:

Did you ever have to optimize a site you were working on, for marketing purposes? If yes, please explain some specific details of what you did, and how well it worked.

Then sit back and be entertained -- you get everything from wacko understanding of what "marketing" is, to monologues on meta tag strategies, and some very, very creative explanation sof what we might call "outcome metrics".

7:40 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Is our industry still seen as a micky mouse one by most?

Sure it is! But there lies the opportunity and long may it last.

Make hay while the sun shines :)

11:17 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I used to get a little disturbed when these instant web designers would get jobs that I wanted, but not any more. It just makes me look better when I come in and clean up after them. We just got a contract for a multi k job that a fella was going to do for "Free" a year ago. The cream rises to the top.
11:31 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Is our industry still seen as a micky mouse one by most?

In 99, one smart guy told me "You people have no idea how little you are
worth in the real world."

Of course, I had all the usual arguments about how it's more than just
HTML, and that there is a huge difference between somebody taking a short course
and a seasoned professional...

Anyway, it took me more than 3 years to realize that he was right.

12:30 am on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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There are literally millions of commercial sites. If it's easy, most of them are making good money. It's simple economics. There is no easy street.
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